Steve, a senior executive at a mid-sized assisted living company, is looking to maximize occupancy and has turned his attention to the initial community tour. How can Steve show properties to the company’s best advantage? How can the tour become more than just a stroll down the hallway? How can it be a true showcase of a community and a lifestyle? Two senior living executives weigh in…

Yardi systems

Once marketing has done its job and arranged for that first
visit, the work is only half done. Family and potential residents roll
into the lobby…and then what happens? It’s a pressing issue not just
because Steve wants his communities to look good, but because he wants
them to look even better. And specifically, he wants them to look
better than the competition’s communities—more enticing or
exciting.

As Steve looks around the company’s 10 properties, he
concludes that certain aspects of each community stand out. One of the
communities has a recently enhanced walking trail adjacent to the main
building. The paved path features a beautifully landscaped pond along
the one-mile loop, and there are several new benches surround the pond
where residents and family members can spend time together on nice
days. Plus, the pond area has become a regular meeting place for the
community’s art class. At least every other week, the instructors and
residents are out there with their easels painting al fresco. And now
the hallways of the community showcase residents’ work.

At another community, the main common area was recently
renovated and now features a big screen plasma television that is
equipped with the latest Nintendo Wii electronic game system. The Wii
system recently received national news coverage for its popularity at
senior living communities. The games simulate the resident’s actual
body movements through a hand-held sensor. The movements are reflected
on the screen for sports such as bowling, tennis, boxing, and baseball.
All of the company’s communities have exciting and attractive aspects
about them. How can Steve use each of these aspects to the company’s
advantage? Overall, which aspects of community life are important to
share with visitors? What looks good on the tour? Conversely, are there
aspects of his operations that perhaps don’t show so well? How can an
assisted living community play to its strengths while still presenting
a complete picture of what it’s like to live there?

Direct supply

As it is, Steve is sure the current plan for community tours
is lacking. The tours are adequate; they familiarize prospects with the
community. But Steve realizes that the company is not making the most
of the tour experience. What immediate changes can be made? How do
changes in this aspect of the business affect staff training and daily
operations?

Currently, residents do not participate in community tours,
besides providing abundant smiles and waves as they go about their
activities. Steve networked with another assisted living executive at a
conference not long ago who talked about residents playing an active
part in the tour experience. She said it was comforting to both the
prospective resident and family members to get first-person feedback
about what it was really like to live in that community. Plus, having
residents participate in the tour gave the prospective resident an
early opportunity to start up friendships.

Steve is willing to consider getting more of the community
involved in each tour, but he also thinks that spending some money
could help jazz up tours, too. Can he, for instance, purchase some new
amenities that would benefit residents and also help the community to
impress potential residents and their families? Big-screen televisions?
A hot tub?

Finally, Steve suspects he may have an issue on the human
resources side. He knows the tour is only as good as the person leading
the experience. How can he tell if the guides need coaching, and what
can he do about it?

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